Dirty Pleasures (Page 6)

I grab my phone and find her number. I hit Send. It goes straight to voice mail.

I call over and over and over until I’m just staring at the phone and getting more and more pissed every time her voice mail picks up.

“This is Holly. You know what to do.”

I’m not sure how many times I’ve called her when I finally leave a message.

“Holly, this is your fucking husband. Where the fuck are you? And if you think you’re fucking done with me, you’re dead wrong, sweetheart. Better get ready, because I’m fucking coming for you.”

An absent thought about winning an award for the number of times I’d used variations on the word fuck floats through my brain as I hang up and call Cannon.

“Dude, the deal is inked. You better not have cold feet now,” he says rather than hello.

“She’s gone,” I say without preamble.

“Come again?”

“She’s fucking gone. Left a note that said good-bye. She’s fucking gone.”

“Shit. Maybe we can undo the deal.”

“That’s not why I’m calling. It’s only money. What I want is my fucking wife back. So go find her.”

Cannon clears his throat. “Um, she called. This afternoon, but I knew you didn’t want to be disturbed.”

Unable to believe what I just heard, I still. “Please repeat yourself.”

“She called. I told her you were busy.”

“And what did she say?” I bite out each word.

“Nothing. She just . . . hung up.” In the background, I hear Cannon typing furiously. “I’ll get our guy on it. I’ll check her credit cards.”

My brain, exhausted from hours at the negotiating table playing mind games with the other side, shifts into gear again. “You’re going to have to track her personal credit cards, because she left the one I gave her.”

“Damn, man. That’s harsh. Or maybe nice? Fuck, I don’t know. At least she didn’t go out and spend a shit-ton of money and leave you with the bill.”

“Considering she left every other goddamn thing—the clothes, the shoes, the fucking guitar—I’m not surprised.” The fact that she left the guitar grates the most. It’s a giant fuck-you, if I’ve ever seen one.

The guitar is what trips my memory. Fuuuuck.

I fucked up. Her tour; she had to be there. I didn’t even think. She has no idea what I did for her . . . and she fucking left.

“I’ll call you back when I’ve got something,” Cannon says.

“No need. She’s gone back to Nashville. Get the jet online. I want to be in the air in an hour. Make sure I’ve got a car waiting on the tarmac, and text me her fucking address.”

The last part is a little humbling to add, considering I should probably know my wife’s address for her last residence. But I also didn’t care enough to ask before. Because I was more than content to have her in my bed, in my fucking penthouse, and not ask many questions about her life before me. That was apparently a big fucking mistake.

“Will do, man. Hold up—the jet is already ready to go. Captain Jim is on standby.”

Of course it fucking is. Because I forgot. I dig a finger and a thumb into my temples and close my eyes.

“Tell the captain I’ll be right there.”

“Will do.”

I hang up and head for the bedroom. All the clothes I instructed a personal shopper to pick out for Holly mock me as I fill my suitcase. I don’t know what the fuck I’m supposed to pack for groveling, and I sure as hell haven’t ever been to a country concert, but I’m fresh out of flannel shirts and cowboy boots. So I toss in some jeans, T-shirts, a few suits—because you never know when you might need one—and all the rest of my shit.

I’m out the door in less than ten minutes. I’m going to find my wife.

In Nashville, dawn is still a couple of hours away when I park the rented Mercedes SL65 AMG at the curb of an apartment building that has seen better days.

This is where Holly lives?

My anger at her record label grows exponentially. They’ve been making plenty of money off her, and yet she’s been paid practically nothing for her work. Motherfuckers. That’s going to end in short order.

I make my way up the crumbling sidewalk to the cracked stoop and scan the list of names by the door. Before I press the buzzer, someone exits and holds the door open for me, so I’m able to head right upstairs—because the security is fucking nonexistent.

Wickman is listed as being on the fourth floor, apartment E, and there’s a sign taped to the elevator that reads Out of Order in faded black marker. I can only guess how long it’s been there. One thing is for damn sure—Holly won’t be staying another night in this dump.

I climb the steps three at a time and knock. It’s the closest approximation I can get to polite at this point.

I wait.

No answer.

I knock again. Less politely.

No answer, so I bang on the door.

“Holly, open the fucking door.”

The door across the hall creaks open, and I turn to see a blond guy with dreads sticking his head out.

“Dude, keep it the fuck down. Some of us are trying to sleep.”

I ignore him and continue banging on the door.

“She ain’t here, man. And I don’t think she’s coming back for a while.”

According to the tour schedule Cannon e-mailed me, they weren’t scheduled to be in Dallas until the night after tomorrow.

I turn back to the stoner. “How do you know she isn’t here? And how the fuck do you know she’s not coming back for a while?”